They get alfalfa hay free choice 24/7, a pelleted feed (16% with AC for the wethers), and whatever they can scrounge. A critical component of caprine health is minerals. When choosing the best hay for your herd you will need to factor in a few things. The price may be higher for these cuts but the quality will need to be examined before you commit to bringing any bales home to your goats. Place forages in a hopper, bin or loose. The process of cutting, raking, drying, and then baling hay is important to know so you better understand which questions to ask before purchasing hay for your goats. You can read my full disclosure statement. Dietary crude protein requirements are higher during growth, gestation, and lactation. Walk your goat to help them remove the excess gas and contact your VET immediately for medical assistance. Remember to always make any changes in diet gradually so as not to upset the balance of your goat’s rumen. Timothy hay is comprised of approximately 7% crude protein, and 32% crude fiber. They then cut it up into smaller chunks and spray it with molasses. Timothy is great hay for goats. In summary, hay quality is much more important in determining suitability for goats rather than type of hay. If you do not have access to pasture for your goats, then the grass hay percentage is going to be a bit higher than the graph above. We prefer to feed second cut to our goats for reasons I will get into later. Goats are a lot like deer and tend to forage more than graze. Just like with meat goats your goal is simply to make sure your animals are in optimal health. Your email address will not be published. A hay’s protein content and Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) should be below 35% for goats. If goats are fed coarse hay, they may eat the leaves but not the stems. It can cause digestive and respiratory problems, among other things. However, this protein intake must be increased gradually during pregnancy, not suddenly. I tried growing my own food for a time. Thank you so much! Timothy Pasture Grass Seed - Timothy grass is a perennial bunch grass with shallow & fibrous roots used for pasture, hay production and forage for horses, cattle and livestock. Need some help getting ready for Thanksgiving this year? Hay is used as animal fodder, meaning feed for large livestock animals. Each type of hay has unique advantages and disadvantages. More often than not this can be easily done with first cut hay. For more information on goat nutrition, see: This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Pellets have about the same protein as hay, but less fiber. But who the goat belonged to was a mystery, since goats are not allowed to be kept in Montclair. If the bag is torn that means air has entered the bag and will result in a dried out Chaffhaye. The higher the fiber content, the lower the digestibility (even if the protein level is high). Gradually replace their hay with alfalfa so they get the proper balance of calcium and phosphorus. Just saying. You can see that a good clover hay is not far off from the alfalfa. Alfalfa hay is very high in calcium and protein and should be used only for sick, pregnant or debilitated animals. Chaffhaye is alfalfa or grass that has been cut early. Let’s break down a goat’s diet so you can see just why we want to focus on hay from the very beginning. But what is the best hay for goats? Usually, machines, called balers, will do the baling. The only sure way to know the nutritional content is to have the hay analyzed by a forage testing laboratory. Orchard grass on the other hand has three cuttings per year. Legume hays, such as clover and alfalfa, usually have more protein, vitamins, and minerals, particularly calcium, than grass hays. The seed heads contain protein and the stems are an important source of roughage. You can more easily remember this by saying Left=Lunch. Rickets and milk fever may reflect phosphorus and calcium deficiencies (they’re usually found together). It is also a bit hard to come by since the amount of second cut hay all depends on the weather. So grab yourself a cup of coffee and maybe a pen and paper for a few notes and let’s dive in. Anything below 6% reflects reduced feed intake and dietary digestibility. Caprines need roughage in the form of about two to four pounds of hay per day (3% to 4% of body weight) for their rumens to function properly. For that reason, Alfalfa hay is a great choice because of it’s higher protein amounts. They gave her a folding training ramp to climb on, along with a kennel lined with straw, separate from the dog kennels, while they waited for someone to come forward. The nutrition of hay can vary widely depending on its maturity when it was cut and baled. You can offer them free choice or mix them in with their grain. Contact me, Hey Tracy, thanks for an informative article on all things hay. Keep fresh water available at all times. Timothy is common in northern areas, whereas brome, orchardgrass, and Bermuda grass are more common in the south. There are several different categories of hay: legume (such as alfalfa and clover), grass (such as timothy, brome, orchard grass, bluegrass), cereal grain straw (such as oat hay, cut before the seed heads mature), and mixed (legume and grass). But during times when goats can’t browse, they must be fed. From growing their own food, making their own cleaning supplies, cutting back, and paring down. (TDN is directly related to digestible energy and is often calculated based on ADF.). This is the early spring cutting and tends to be the coarsest of the hay cuttings because of the thicker stems. Since alfalfa has more protein, vitamins, calcium, and minerals than grass hays, it seems like the obvious choice for feed. Hay, in goats, for example, will help them to stay warmer in the winter. Now I am teaching others how to do the same. Regardless of your goat keeping situation, hay is a must and is the main part of a goat’s diet. The type of hay will directly affect the amount and quality of milk along with the percentages of butterfat found within. This varies depending on the maturity of the hay or alfalfa and the way that its cured and stored. Grass hay provides a moderate amount of protein and energy for the goat diet. Learn how your comment data is processed. SLCG PRO TIP: Hay must be kept out of the rain to deter spoiling of the hay bale. There are so many things to know about hay from growing it to cutting or mowing it down. Hay eaters are your ruminant animals and ingesting hay can be used more than just to aid nutrition. A pregnant doe (late gestation) requires 12% crude protein (66% TDN), then between 9% and 11% as she lactates (60-65% TDN). You may have heard the terms hay and straw used interchangeably in a conversation. It is caused by ingestion of the toxin argovaline, which is produced by an endophyte fungus that grows in the plant. Timothy grass is best adapted to northern (cold) cooler climates and may be planted with clovers, alfalfa and other legumes for food plots for deer and other wildlife. and all of mine are STILL thin. You can expect a 150 lb ewe to eat about 3 lbs of hay per day for maintenance (which is what you're feeding for). However, a diet of nothing but alfalfa diet is “too much of a good thing.” By itself, alfalfa is too high in calcium and protein for healthy goats and should be limited to sick, pregnant, or debilitated animals. They will gather up the hay, bundle it together, tie it with string also known as baling twine and finally toss it into a hay trailer or back onto the grass to be gathered up later. Notify me via e-mail if anyone answers my comment. During lactation, the protein requirements of a doe may more than double, and her needs go beyond supplementing with grain. The smell too is more fragrant and actually smells like fresh-cut grass. Goats require additional hay, which is roughage, for their rumen to function properly. READ: DAIRY GOAT BREEDS – CHOOSING THE BEST FOR YOUR FARM. The cut hay is then left out to dry usually just that day or a second if needed. The key is to keep the hay dry to again ensure the quality of the hay is left intact preserving its nutritional value for your animals. The long fiber lengths are necessary for this. . Yes, it can seem overwhelming at first especially when there are so many aspects to what makes a good quality bale of hay. However, when things all work out. Oh, boy, was I ever wrong! This can be fed free-choice or twice a day. To locate a source of hay in your area, check with your County Agricultural Extension agent for a listing of hay/straw auctions or look in the farming If adequate pasture is not available, feed your goat grass-type hay such as timothy. Grass Hay vs. Alfalfa . But don’t let this scare you, I just want you to be aware before you begin so you can better understand how to support your goats in the healthiest way. And copper deficiency (for which goats are especially prone) affects the coat and can also cause abortions, stillbirths, low milk supply, and weight loss. As browsers (as opposed to grazers), goats eat a wide variety of plants from weeds to woody shrubs. Legume includes alfalfa, clover, or soy. Although your goats may not find it as tasty as other grasses. Timothy hay has two cuttings per year. Hay can come in concentrate form, i.e. You may have driven by a pasture of neat rows of cut green grass before. Basically, there are three types of goats. Hay is particularly important if milk production is the main purpose of your goats. Again, balance is key. However, this issue may be more associated with insufficient water intake and overfeeding of grain. First cut hay also has the most weeds and the lowest protein of the common cuts. Your Copper Guide. Chaffhaye is a moist slightly ground alfalfa hay that is compacted into bags. Alfalfa should not be fed free-choice. A combination of alfalfa and grass hays, as well as a proper grain mix, will provide caprines with the necessary protein and roughage to stimulate the digestive action of the rumen. How Your Water is Affecting Your Goats. Luckily there are a few options to help remedy this. Once the hay has been dried then the baling process can begin. Bailing is simply the process of cutting, raking, combining, and stacking the hay into sections. What have you found to be the best hay for goats? Hay is the main source of nutrients for animals such as goats, especially in non-grazing seasons. Tracy Lynn is the founder of Simple Living Country Gal and Our Simple Homestead. Again encouraging nutrients to support the energy needed by a bred goat. Knowing the main purpose of your goats will better help you to choose the best hay and feed. Straight Alfalfa 2 String Bales 50lb Alfalfa creates a soft green high energy feed for growing livestock, working horses and dairy cattle. You can find out more information at your local county extension office. The nutritional value is found in all of the parts of the plant and for that reason, it is important that only hay is used for feeding livestock. Cereal hay can either be harvested before … But you can feed your goats timothy if alfalfa is not available. Its low protein, high fiber, and high energy content make it easily digestible. First cut hay is the first time the pasture is cut down for baling that season. This is why the quality of your goat’s hay is so important. Respiratory illness can be common in some animals like horses and goats for example. Goats won’t drink as much water if it’s foul, so make sure the animals have access to plenty of clean water. Instead, portion it out in flakes. ADF is a laboratory analysis that measures the cellulose and lignin levels in plants, and lignin is not digestible, so an acid detergent fiber measure that is low - below 35% - is preferable for goats. Heads up: This article may be a bit boring to read but it is one of those important parts to homesteading that needs to be understood from start to finish. Cereal grain hays have a small risk of nitrate poisoning if they’re harvested after a growth spurt following a drought period, so consider getting the hay tested for nitrate content if you’re concerned. When you say grass hay is that the timothy hay? SLCG PRO TIP: If your goat has a large belly that is hard to the touch that could be the sign of bloat, a deadly condition in goats where gas becomes trapped in the rumen. Hay also has regional variations. Grass Hay can be timothy, orchard grass or other types of grass or broom grass. Timothy Hay – This type of livestock hay has a 32 percent ratio of crude fiber and a 7 percent ratio of crude protein. This product is manufactured in Texas but more and more states are carrying it as well. Each goat needs about two to four pounds of hay per day (3-4% of body weight in pounds), which can be fed free choice or twice a day. My animal's milk production has gone up with the introduction of the clover hay. This can be fed free-choice or twice a day. : )), Yes, I agree, Jon…growing food is hard and being at the mercy of the weather is no walk in the park either. This will include cattle, horses, goats, llamas, alpacas, and sheep. It is important to know the best hay for your specific animals in order to ensure their overall health, growth, and milk production. This hay is richer and more nutrient-dense that supports the high energy needed for milk production. I also give them the sweet feed from time to time as a treat. Ingredients: Sun Cured Timothy Grass Hay Feeding Instructions: Feed as a forage supplement for horses, cattle, and other livestock. It is one of the most common hays fed to horses. This in no way affects your price. Contrary to the old saying, a goat will eat anything even a tin can, most goats are in fact, picky eaters. It’s all about making more of what we need so we spend less, save oodles of money and live better! There are three different types of hay, Grass, Legume and Cereal Grain. I consent to Backyard Goats collecting and storing the data I submit in this form. (Privacy Policy) *, © 2020, Countryside - All Rights Reserved. Safe Treats for Goats. Your email address will not be published. Caprines need roughage in the form of about two to four pounds of hay per day (3% to 4% of body weight) for their rumens to function properly. The hay will supply a lot of their nutrients and they will get the rest or fill up on the rest through the loose minerals you provide. Standlee Premium Timothy Grass forage can be fed at a minimum rate equal to 10% of the total diet. Grass hay, such as timothy, orchard, brome, and bluegrass, is a suitable maintenance hay for goats. Net WT: 40 LBS/ 18.14 KG If it smells sweet it’s good to go, if it smells spoiled or sour then you will not want to feed it to your goats. Hay is first cut (mowed) down and then raked into rows. We like to test a bale at home prior to purchasing large amounts for our animals. Straw, on the other hand, is used more in gardening and landscaping because it does not contain the seeds of the plant. They are all under 1 except for my Nubian she is 3 . Grass hays should be the main component in rabbit, chinchilla and guinea pig diets. This means they pick and choose the best parts of a pasture. More often than not most meat goats will thrive on first cut hay as long as the quality is good and the nutrients are intact. Hay is the main source of nutrients for goats in non-grazing seasons, or all the time if they dont have access to browse. Since the largest part of a goat’s diet is grassy hay, that is where we are going to put our focus today, in particular, the first and second cuts. It was rewarding but also hard work, and as your article illustrates, not simple at all. Let us know in the comments below! Chaffhaye is made by cutting early alfalfa or grass, chopping it, mixing it with molasses and a probiotic culture called bacillus subtilis and vacuum-packing it. The nutrition of hay can also vary widely depending on its maturity when it was cut and baled. I am a redneck frugal living goat owner and I am working everyday towards living a more simple life. If you know those things you will not only provide your goats with a healthy diet but you will save your homestead money as well. If fed dry, pellets will add volume in the rumen as soon as they get in contact with the stomach fluids. Please know that I only recommend resources and items I believe in and highly recommend. If your timothy was cut a bit late, add in a little alfalfa for some extra protein and you will have it made. We produce the best qualities of Alfalfa hay, Timothy hay, Bermudagrass hay, Clover hays, Oat hay, Orchard Grass, Prairie hay, Peanut hay, Mountain grass, Sudan grass, Grass for mules and more. The purpose of a meat goat is to fill the freezer and for that reason, you will want to encourage healthy weight gain in your meat goats. If you live in a region like we do that does not have a large supply of alfalfa hay then you may want to supplement your goats to help. A rainy season usually means less hay and that can drive the price of second cut pretty high. Moldy hay can not only make your goats sick but even, in some cases, kill so being sure your bales are stored correctly is a crucial part of a healthy herd. Since our goats prefer the second cut hay they will eat more that will, in turn, keep their rumens active giving them a bit more protection when those frigid wind chills hit. Goats instinctively choose the most nutritious plants available. Alfalfa, for example, contains an impressive list of nutrients. Timothy hay is used most often as cattle and horse feed. Each of these grasses may be found in your hay … For all animals, don’t make drastic changes to your goats’ diet all at once or you’ll risk digestive upsets. ». This will all depend on the weather where you live. (Think of them as “living weedwhackers” rather than “living lawnmowers.”). These can range from small squares to large round bales and the prices of the bale will depend, of course, on size but also on the quality. Their daily feed will determine how much you’ll need to supplement them. Unfortunately, not all regions have access to alfalfa hay. Even though they are two different things they are commonly referred to interchangeably. Timothy hay can be as high in protein as Alfalfa. This cut of hay will be more expensive because of the quality and nutritional levels found in the bales. Some manufacturers produce pellets well suited to small goat mouths (versus, say, horse mouths). Since goats will not eat straw because they prefer hay, you can keep bedding intact. Originally published in the May/June 2020 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy. When we began raising dairy goats, we barely knew hay from straw. That is what we give them in the morning. 2. Timothy grass is a good alternative of alfalfa. I do mix the pellets with grain occasionally.. These rows are usually cut in the early morning to allow the dew to help hold the leaves of the hay intact with the stems. The shelter staff rallied and bought some timothy hay and special pellets as food. Where we live, in Northwestern PA, timothy grass hay is the most commonly found along with orchard grass. Repeating the obvious, goats need constant access to fresh (not dirty) water at all times for proper digestion to take place. Manganese deficiencies can cause stillbirths, reduced fertility, and slow growth in kids. Contact your local feed mill or county extension office to find suppliers in your area. They like to graze often throughout the day going for weeds and leafy plants before turning to grasses. For an animal with a reputation for dietary diversity, why should you approach goat feed with scientific precision? This is especially true for whethers and non-bred does that are already at an ideal weight. Grass hays like our Timothy have a high fiber content and are low in protein and calcium. Hay that came with a hefty price tag but my goats simply refused to eat. Grass hay is a good source of food because it includes a moderate amount of proteins. Grass hay (like timothy, orchard) contains less protein and calcium than legume hay. It is always best to promote health every day through diet rather than being forced to treat sick animals. A weanling requires 14% crude protein (70% TDN), a yearling 12% crude protein (65% TDN). I feed Timothy hay mix to all my goats cause I can’t get alfalfa hay for my girls and I supplement with Timothy pellets for my buck and wether and alfalfa pellets for the does. I will switch the pellets to just the timothy hay pellets then. Mineral deficiencies can wreak havoc on caprine health. You can also feed it to your animal if you live in an area where you cannot let it free to browse for food by itself. Treats should only be given as a training aid or in small amounts on any type of a regular basis. Ceads is the leading supplier of alfalfa hay and timothy hay for horses, dairy and beef cattle, camels, goats, sheep and animal feed industries globally. As the graph above shows, hay takes up half of a goats daily diet. If good range isn't available, dry grass forage of a horse quality is acceptable. This is usually cut fresh and bailed; giving it the most nutritional value. They're dairy goats so don't bulk up like meat goats. Since most goats prefer the second cut to first cut hay this will encourage them to eat more and help them to establish a better weight. pellets. Since goats will not eat straw because they prefer hay, you can keep bedding intact. It is crucial that excess moisture is removed from the hay to ensure it’s nutritional integrity. Alfalfa pellets are a great option to offer to your goats that will give them a good supply of protein. If you click on one of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission for referring you. SLCG PRO TIP: Did you know that most goats can live their entire life without any supplemental grain? Make sure it is nice and green, also leafy (sheep aren't big fans of stems; they will eat it, but mostly pull it out of the hay feeder looking for the leafy part of the hay). A zinc shortage causes stiff joints, low interest in breeding, skin problems, excessive salivating, and deformed hooves. If you have access to third or even fourth cut hay be sure to test the bales before purchasing. Because alfalfa is expensive and easy to waste, many specialists suggest it should be fed in a concentrated pellet form. As browsers, goats eat a wide variety of plants when roaming free, and will eat some of the weeds and other undesirable plants that other animals will not. What are you waiting for! SLCG PRO TIP: Straw is great to use for goat bedding. Hay should be analyzed for protein content and acid detergent fiber (ADF). I am feeding both cows and goats a predominately clover and orchard grass hay with a 16% dairy ration and alfalfa once a day. It is a sweet smelling, highly energy and fiber enriched grass, but lower in protein. You may hear of types such as timothy hay, orchard grass, canary grass, fescue, etc. Since purchasing pellets can be a bit expensive online I suggest checking with your local feed mill for a more affordable option. For our dairy goats, we prefer to feed second cut hay. Second cut hay usually has a softer feel to it and looks greener than first cut. Chaffhaye. Just saying. Never Feed moldy feed to animals. They should replace it without question. Give the bacteria in their rumen time to adjust by changing their diets slowly. The main purpose of hay is to feed grazing animals and for that reason the timing and care at bailing are crucial. Due to its low protein levels, Timothy hay can be fed regularly to satisfy appetite without excess calories and protein, and in some cases provides enough protein for less active and stabled horses. Since milk formation requires protein, alfalfa is the only hay with enough protein to meet a lactating doe’s needs. When choosing a mineral supplement, be sure to choose something specifically formulated for goats (not sheep, cattle, horses, etc.). The contents must be moist so the integrity of the bag is important. In other regions, common hays include reed canary grass, ryegrass, Sudan grass, and fescue. For this reason, the price for first cut hay will be lower than later cuts. SLCG PRO TIP: Always check your bags of Chaffhaye before purchasing. They have goat minerals and baking soda as well but they could care less about these. Very coarse hay or forage is not readily digestible by goats, so they prefer not to eat them. Once opened you will need to store it in a container that will help to keep the air out. Mineral requirements can be classified as macro (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur, chlorides) and micro (iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine, selenium, molybdenum, etc.). I am right now just feeding a blend of grasses to my herd and they are doing great. When the moon is full and those stars aligned and your garden is just bursting with an amazing rainbow of produce, that is when it is all worth it. Be sure these cuts still include the maturity of growth so you are getting the best quality and protein for your goats. Our goats are given Chaffhaye year round and they really love the taste of it. When I first starting raising goats I thought all hay was alike. SLCG PRO TIP: As with any cut of hay, the amount of dust is also important to consider. Have you gotten your FREE Mini Home Planner yet? Nothing is simpler than hopping in my car and picking up dinner at the supermarket. To know if it is good go by the smell. Do not hesitate to call the supplier and ask for a replacement if a bag is found open or damaged. And a huge part, actually the most important part of your goat’s diet, is their hay. This style of hay is a nice mix of essential nutrients, but it also has a lower protein percentage than alfalfa hay. Alfalfa pellets are commonly available, as are timothy pellets, orchard grass pellets, etc. Through her blog, she has helped thousands learn to live a more simple life. Since feeding Chaffhaye I have found a much healthier and robust herd that is better able to fight off worms on their own which is commonly found in our very wet climates. Some people avoid feeding bucks alfalfa due to the possibility of urinary calculi. We grew up in gardening families, without livestock. Do not store in sunlight or allow it to get warm or the contents will mold. Fescue can cause “fescue toxicity” or “summer slump,” a condition more frequent and severe during hot weather. Feeding goats can be a bit tricky because they have what is known as a complex digestive system. Free choice feeding may be offered, but Standlee Premium Timothy Grass is NOT intended to be the only component of the diet. Timothy hay, like orchard grass and cereal grain hay is good to mix with legume hay for goats but should none of these varieties should solely comprise the hay intake of the herd. Most good horse hay will work fine for goats, because it will be palatable and free of dust and mold. Again, if you see your goats are on the lighter side you may want to have a few bales of second cut around. I’ve been in love with hay since I was a kid (no pun intended). Check the size of the stem and the quality of the nutritional value of the hay. Start grain gradually (just a handful a day) until your does are eating up to a half-pound of grain a day (depending on the goat size and breed) or half to two-thirds of their normal milking ration by the time they kid, in addition to hay. A shortage of sufficient iodine can cause goiters, just like with humans. Every single bit. Timothy. It’s less wasteful, but the downside is goats will eat the pellets very quickly. Hay is what we call a cut pasture and as stated above, it includes the stem, leaves, and seed head. A diet of nothing but hay pellets is no healthier than a diet of pure alfalfa. There are three different types of hay, Grass, Legume and Cereal Grain. Bucks can get by with 8% crude protein (60% TDN). READ: THE BEST HAY FEEDERS OPTIONS FOR GOATS. Keep stored in a cool dry place. Caprine owners may view their animals as severely deficient in many critical minerals, when in fact they may lack only a few core elements. In late pregnancy, make sure a doe has ample hay or forage along with her higher grain levels, to prevent such issues as pregnancy toxemia or acidosis (carbohydrate fermentation disorder of the rumen). Hay cannot be cut or mowed in the rain since it needs to be dried prior to baling. Goat Mineral Guide. This means they stubbornly refuse to mow your lawn and instead will eat the weeds, bushes, leaves, and even barks of trees. This post may contain affiliate links. Chaffhaye is premium bagged, Non-GMO Alfalfa. More often than not first cut will work just fine in this area but if you find your goats on the low end of the weight scale you may want to introduce second cut hay.

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